On 21 September 2017, Theydon Bois Action Group wrote to Sajid Javid MP and copied the Prime Minister, the Mayor of London and our local MP. See http://www.theydonbois-actiongroup.co.uk/ to read the letter. We received a prompt acknowledgement from the Prime Minister and have also had an acknowledgement from our local MP but have yet to hear from the Mayor of London. We hope to publish a reply from Sajid Javid MP, that is if we receive one.
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To: Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
To Protect English Green Belts.
We call on Mr Sajid Javid to issue a new Policy Instruction to the Planning Inspectorate confirming the Planning Practice Guidance published by the Government on 6 October 2014 which states that "Unmet housing need ....is unlikely to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and other harm to constitute the 'very special circumstances' justifying inappropriate development on a site within the Green Belt". Specifically, we seek the new Policy Instruction to clearly confirm that unmet housing need does not represent the very special or exceptional circumstances necessary to allow inappropriate development in the Green Belt or for the alteration of Green Belt boundaries; nor does the absence of a five year supply of housing sites represent those very special or exceptional circumstances.
Why is this important?
This action would be in consonance with Mr Javid’s statement of 18 July 2016 when he said that “The Green Belt is absolutely sacrosanct. We have made that clear: it was in the Conservative party manifesto and that will not change. The Green Belt remains special. Unless there are very exceptional circumstances, we should not be carrying out any development on it.”
We consider it the duty of Mr Javid to fulfil the Conservative Manifesto 2015 wherein it states the party will “…ensure local people have more control over planning and protect the Green Belt.” and “We will protect the Green Belt. We have safeguarded national Green Belt protection and increased protection of important green spaces.” and that “Our plan of action: We will protect your countryside and Green Belt and urban environment … we will protect the Green Belt …”.
The public must have confidence that this Conservative Government will in practical terms protect Green Belt as it has been claiming it would. The Planning Inspectorate, in examining Local Plans submitted by Local Authorities, is currently approving some Plans which seek to move established Green Belt boundaries in order to enable the building of, inter alia, new homes to meet unmet housing demand. While it is recognised that new housing is needed in England, building on Green Belts is directly contrary to the Government’s stated Policy Guidance and specific Green Belt Policies, and further it is often contrary to the wishes of the established communities in or adjacent to those Green Belt areas.
The Government claimed in 2011 that they were protecting Green Belts by revoking the Regional Plans. But now Government is imposing unattainable housing targets on Local Authorities who are constrained by established Green Belt land. If these housing targets are not met, despite the constraints, the Local Authority will be fined and the Government will step in to enforce a local plan on the district. The Local Authorities are being bullied by Government into moving Green Belt boundaries, not only in contradiction of Government’s own policy, but contrary to paragraph 80 of the NPPF which sets out the five purposes of Green Belt.
The Government has remained consistent across several years and various Ministers with its stated support for protecting the Green Belt and green spaces. It is noticeable that under the Coalition Government, Conservative Ministers were more vociferous about protecting our Green Belt than they have been since being in sole control of our country. Nonetheless, the current Government’s Manifesto and relevant planning policy remains unchanged.
The originator of this petition has collected 21 Ministerial Statements and a Statement by the Mayor of London which variously supports the principle that the Government will protect the Green Belt and that the need for housing does not outweigh the exceptional circumstances required to build inappropriately in the Green Belt. We are only asking for this Government to make good on its promises.
To read the Ministerial statements and quotes from other relevant publications (with links), see http://www.theydonbois-actiongroup.co.uk/2016/11/06/ministerial-statements-and-a-statement-by-the-mayor-of-london/